Editor’s note: During each Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., scholars are required to complete a mobile media reporting module, which includes producing videos and reporting and writing stories. Their work is displayed here.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – May 2015 marked the five-year anniversary of the flood that washed away homes and dampened the sounds of Tennessee’s Music City.
As the state continues to recover from the flood, one Nashville resident is stringing along the restoration process – literally.
On a recent day, Randy Hunt, 44, was restoring a bass after the flood of 2010 warped the wood and left the instrument in pieces. The upright bass sat underwater for days in a storage unit. Thirty other instruments from the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum were also damaged, and the waters flowed into Nashville’s music mecca, the Grand Ole Opry.
Even though Hunt, a luthier at Williams Fine Violins on 17th Avenue, is rebuilding the bass, he wants it to keep some of its original character.
“Every little scratch and dent and nick tells a story,” said Hunt, who wears his hair slicked back in the style of Johnny Cash and freelances as a bassist.
The bass he is working on is more than 60 years old and holds many stories. It belonged to Nashville music legend Floyd “Lightnin’” Chance, who once performed at the Grand Ole Opry and collaborated with the Everly Brothers and Patsy Cline on recordings.
Chance donated two basses to the hall of fame, and Hunt also repaired the other one. Chance died in 2005, but his music legacy plays on with the basses.
Jay McDowell, multimedia curator for the hall of fame, witnessed the flood that took the instruments from under the hands of Nashville musicians.
“It was horrific,” McDowell said. “I watched a man just crying, throwing away his basses and amps and tossing them in the dumpster.”
Eleven people died from the flooding in Nashville and a total of 26 died in Tennessee and Kentucky. The flood also caused $2 billion in damages.
Like the rebuilding of Nashville after the flood, rebuilding the instruments has not been a smooth process for Hunt, who started patching up the bass in November.
“It’s a lot of work working on ’em,” he said. “There are certain idiosyncrasies you got to understand about the bass.”
For every two steps forward, he takes three steps back, he said. While the process is challenging, seeing the finished product makes the effort worthwhile, Hunt said.